By Sarah Susanka, Special to Yahoo Homes
This is the house I've wanted to offer today's home buyers for years.
You see, as an architect and the author of "The Not So Big House" book series, I’ve been promoting the benefits of smaller but better-designed homes for many years. But although I’ve had the opportunity to design many homes for families and couples wanting to build based on the principles I write about, most of these homes have still tended to be over 2,000 square feet. (Click here to read about those principles, illustrated, here on Yahoo Homes' Spaces blog.)
But today, in the post-recession economy, with a new awareness of what it costs to heat, cool, and clean a lot of rarely used square footage, many people are seeking a house that’s closer to the size of a bungalow from the turn of the last century.
With this in mind, I’m introducing this Not So Big Bungalow—a house of just under 1,600 square feet—for today’s more informal lifestyle, but using some of the same sensible strategies as its century-old counterpart.
Existing bungalows are charming older homes that are the perfect size for singles, for couples without children, and for empty nesters. But sadly, they just aren’t designed for today’s lifestyles. They tend to have tiny kitchens that are separated from the living spaces, and the bedrooms have minute closet spaces—not quite up to our present-day shopping habits.
Their sensibility, however, is spot on. What’s needed today is a house that’s right-sized for the way we really live, with an eye to convenience and comfort, as well as energy efficiency. That’s what this house is all about.
Like its 20th-century precursor, the Not So Big Bungalow is built better rather than bigger. But it’s also designed for today’s informal lifestyles, and it’s filled with personality and the small details that can turn a house into home.
Since the master bedroom and bathroom are on the main level, the house is designed to expand and contract with your household’s needs over a lifetime, if you want it to, just as the original bungalows did. You might choose to finish only the main level to start with; then finish the second floor as kids come along; and return to one story living in later years, leaving the upper level for visiting family and friends.
The home’s walls and roof are made using an innovative panelization system called SIPs (Structural Insulated Panels), which makes it super energy efficient, and extra quiet on the inside. I’ve designed many of my homes to be built with SIPs, as they allow much faster construction than usual, and are a superior construction system to the standard stud frame construction that most houses are built with, both in terms of energy efficiency and structural integrity. If you want to weather a hurricane for example, this is the system to use.
But best of all, this house is designed to be both beautiful and functional, and to inspire its inhabitants every day.
It’s time for a house like this. Perhaps if enough people start asking for something with more character, the market will respond. I know the demand is there. We just have to change our notion of what a house includes. That’s why the full title of The Not So Big House is “a blueprint for the way we really live."